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An article taken from page three of the Western Mail, 10 September 1914, explaining the arrangements made by the Soldiers and Sailors’ Families Association to make financial provision for the families of men who signed up for the army, during the First World War. This was before conscription was introduced and the authorities did not want men to be discouraged from enlisting by financial concern for their families.

Major Gildea founded the Soldiers' and Sailors' Families Association (SSFA) in 1885. When the Second Expeditionary Force set sail for Egypt in February 1885, Major (later Colonel Sir) James Gildea wrote a letter to The Times appealing for money and volunteers to help the military families left behind at home. At the outbreak of the First World War, the Government called on them to take care of the families of soldiers going to the Front. After five months, SSFA had paid out more than £1m from the National Relief Fund that they administered and they had 50,000 voluntary workers. Following the founding of the Royal Air Force in 1918, the organisation changed its name to the Soldiers', Sailors' & Airmen's Families Association. It is now known as SSAFA. Source:, viewed 14/2/17.

The article reads:


Some discussion has taken place of late relative to the methods adopted by the local branches of the Soldiers' and Sailors’ Families Association. As any misunderstanding might militate against recruiting at Cardiff a Western Mail reporter went to the City-hall on Wednesday to see for himself what was being done in the city.

The arrangements seemed admirable. The wives and mothers of soldiers and sailors are invited to attend at the City-hall as soon as possible after the breadwinner has enlisted or re-joined the colours. The hon. Secretaries, Miss David and Mrs. Span, are in attendance with a strong body of experienced helpers to take the necessary particulars. These are at once passed on to the lady visitors in all parts of the city. These now number between 70 and 80, though about a dozen more are still required, and it is to be hoped that ladies who can render service in this respect will volunteer without delay.


The lady visitors are supplied with ample funds to enable them to give assistance at once until the Government separation allowance arrives. Even when this remittance comes financial assistance is to be continued, but at a reduced rate. The committee are in touch with Cardiff employers who make allowances to the wives and mothers of their patriotic employees who have enlisted, and in this way overlapping is prevented.

The circumstances attaching to each case are sympathetically considered, but the normal rate of help will be such as to ensure income to the household from all sources of £1 3s. 6d. per week.

There is also a “case” committee which deals promptly with any case presenting any abnormal feature. There is, too, a sewing committee which teaches and encourages the women to make shirts at their homes, thus preventing them moping, and at the same time providing them with a little extra towards the needs of the household.

Up to Wednesday over 1,800 cases had already been dealt with, but even then the queue of waiting women—each provided with a seat! —at the City-hall was considerable. Indeed, one could not fail to be impressed with the kindly consideration and courtesy shown to every woman.

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